The Pastor's Heart

The Doctrine of Spiritual Pride

During our 5 day study Acts of Repentance the Holy Spirit kept drawing me to a subject that I believe is invading the body of Christ, and that’s what I like to call “The Doctrine of Spiritual Pride”.

What is the doctrine of Spiritual Pride?  It’s got three parts to it.  The first part is the doctrine is the belief that we can be holy.  The second part of the doctrine is the belief that we can live a sinless life.  The final part of the doctrine is the belief that we can get to a place where we no longer need to repent.

First, I would like to address this idea that we can be holy.  Once we come to know Jesus as our Lord & Savior…we will never become more holy from that day no matter how hard we try.  Why?  Because the holiness that we receive is not our own, and it cannot be earned or worked for.  We are not holy because of what we do or do not do.  We are not holy because we abstain from drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, or never uttering a swear word.  We are not holy because we go to church every Wednesday, and Sunday.  We are not holy because we hold a Bible study, or attend every revival service we can.  No…the ONLY reason we are holy is because of one simple, yet very offensive reason…we are in Christ.  It is not our holiness, it is not our righteousness, and it is not our works that make or give us anything in Christ…all we are, have and become is SOLELY because we are in Christ.  In other words, the holiness we receive is HIS.  The righteousness we receive is HIS.  That’s what the great exchange was all about He takes from us what we deserved, and we receive from Him what He has.  Therefore, there is never a time where I will be more holy than I was the day I confessed Christ as Lord & Savior.  We don’t grow in holiness we grow from glory to glory and faith to faith.  Everything we are, have, and become is because we receive it from Christ because of what He did on the Cross…everything that we would ever need was purchased & provided by His death, burial, and resurrection on the Cross.

Secondly is this belief that we can live a sinless life.  I John 1:8 – 10 was written by a believer for a believer through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Let’s first take a look at the most well known verse in this passage.  Verse 9 states; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Listen, if we are told in the Bible that “if we confess our sins” that means that even if we are believers there is still going to be sin in our lives that we need to confess.  If we look at those three verses in it’s entirety we see that there isn’t an “if” we sin, but “when”.  These verses are written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and what we are reading here is that if we walk through our Christian life acting or talking like we have no sin in our lives we deceive ourselves.  There is no question in my mind that this passage was written to believers because unbelievers do not have “fellowship with the saints”, and if you go on to read the first few verse of 1 John 2…it’s made even more clear that John is not writing to people who aren’t saved.

Now I am not saying that we should go ahead, and live our lives any way  we want.  The Bible is also clear that we should work with the Lord to change how we live our lives.  We also ought not to continue willingly practice sin.  The problem with this belief in the doctrine that we can live a sinless life is usually only looking at the outward sins, and it’s proven by the fact that anyone who believes they can live a sinless life is already deceived.  The very thought that we can live exactly like Jesus did is prideful in itself.  There is and will only be one person who ever walked this earth living a sin-free life…and He’s the One with Whom our eternity relies upon…the only perfect, sinless is Jesus Christ.

There is so much more to sin than just the visible sins we commit on the outside.  That’s why it’s impossible to live a life without sin.  Remember when Jesus spoke of the law?  Let me ask you a few questions.  Do you ever look at a woman, and think to yourself about how hot she is?  Believe it or not…that’s lust.  Jesus said if you even look upon a woman with lust you have committed adultery with her in your mind.  You don’t have to touch her, you don’t have to try to imagine what she looks like naked…if you merely look upon a woman (or a man) with lust in your mind…that is a sin.  Have you ever met someone that you think in your mind that you just don’t like that guy (or woman)?  Jesus said if you hate your brother your guilty of murder…and let me be clear here.  There’s no middle ground here.  You either love your neighbor or you don’t, and if you don’t then you are guilty of murder.  Do you ever talk or gossip about someone?  That’s being a tail-bearer…and that is a sin as well.

See, I believe that those who believe they can live sinless lives focus on sins of commission, but not the ones of omission.  They look at the sins that can be seen, but not the ones that cannot be seen.  Jesus spoke on this as well saying to the Pharisees.   In Matthew 23:25-28 Jesus had a lot to say about how the Pharisees, scribes, and hypocrites looked on the outside like they were clean, but inside of them was disgusting filth.  The belief that we can live sinless lives is similar to the belief that the Pharisees had that just because they looked holy on the outside…they were anything BUT holy on the inside.

Finally, this idea that we will reach a point where we’ll never have to repent again.  There is NO scripture that you can point to in the Bible that says that as believers we’ll reach such a point of perfection that we’ll never have to repent for falling short of the grace of God again.  Let’s take a look at four of the most prominent people in the New Testament church…Peter, James, John, and Paul.    These four men are probably the most well known, and if they had to constantly repent in their lives…how much more likely is it that we will have to repent too.  Paul, himself talks about his own struggles in Romans 7:14- 20.  Later in 2 Corinthians 12:7 he talks about having a thorn that buffets him continually so that he will not be exalted above measure.  And, later Paul writes that even he at his advanced stage…and let’s not kid ourselves.  Paul was the Pharisee of Pharisees, he knew the law, he knew what was and was not sin, and he writes with all of his wisdom & knowledge, and what he witnessed, and received from the Lord…he still writes that he hadn’t considered himself to have attained anything…but was still striving to press toward the mark of the calling upon him.

Listen, if Paul had to continually strive then how much more will we have to continue to strive?  How much more will we miss the mark?  None of us have written two thirds of the Bible.  None of us have ever been able to see the third heaven.  None of us received the mystery.  None of us have the wealth of knowledge both of the law and of grace that Paul had…and yet he fell short.  He still found areas of his life that he needed to die in.  He still found that he needed to repent from time to time.  So if he had to continuously repent then we are clearly going to have to repent for the rest of our lives.  If Peter, James, John or Paul couldn’t live perfectly sinless lives…there’s absolutely NO way we can, and any belief that you can is prideful…and dangerously deceiving to our walk with God.

It sounds religious, and really wonderful to say that we can gain in holiness, we can live sinless lives, and reach a pinnacle of success where we’ll never have to repent of sin again.  However, there’s more than enough scriptures to prove that this “Doctrine of Spiritual Pride” is nothing more than a lie straight out of the pit of hell, and it has no place in the body of Christ.

Here at Christlike Ministries Arkansas we will never reach or preach that we can reach a place where we believe we can grow in holiness because we know the holiness we have isn’t ours, but Christ’s.  At Christlike Ministries Arkansas we will never reach or preach that we can live sinless lives because we realize that if Peter, James, John, and Paul couldn’t live perfect lives neither can we.  We also believe that there is and will only ever be One who lived a perfect, sinless life…and that’s Christ…and there will never be one that comes after Him.  Here at Christlike Ministries Arkansas we will never reach or preach that we can or will ever reach a pinnacle of success in our walk with God that we will never have to repent again.  Again, if Peter, James, John, and Paul had to repent…there’s no way in the world we live in today that we’ll be able to walk through life without having some sin to repent of…and in the case that we believe, think, or preach that we do…we believe that we will have to repent for getting into spiritual pride.

I hope that this has been helpful to you.  I’m not a professional blogger, and I have no journalism experience.  So, I hope & pray this is a good read.  I basically write the way I think, and I hope that you enjoy this.